Favourite Cleanser

I finally found a cleansing oil I like as much as the DHC olive oil cleanser I tried in Japan. It's the Origins Clean Energy cleanser.

The oil is great at removing dirt and the cleanser also contains emulsifiers that react with water so it rinses off easily. This is a blend of different oils (olive, sesame, sunflower, etc.) and no parabens, artificial colours or perfumes. That cheery yellow colour is all natural!

Small Signs of Older Age

Small changes I'm noticing as I get older:

1. The weather affects me a lot more than it used to when I was in my 20's. Now cloudy days genuinely bum me out.

2. Baby toe nail is getting weird. It's not non-existent yet like my mom's, but it's definitely looking a bit...different.

3. I've changed my mind about some foods I thought were gross as a kid. Like persimmons (the soft, mushy kind.)




The fanciest dinner I made last week was probably this udon. I went on a bit of a cooking rampage, making side dishes for this dish and the rest of the week including a big batch of tofu fritters and shiitake mushrooms simmered in sweetened soy sauce.

Toppings are shiitake mushrooms, a tofu fritter, green onion, chopped pickled plum and seaweed.

My husband had udon noodles, I had soba.

Impulse Buys

A small bottle of perfume by Philosophy and travel sized hand cream from L'Occitane. My hands get so dry in the winter so I'll carry the hand cream around with me in my bag.
Impulse Buys

I can't remember the last time I bought a perfume. This one smells kind of like nice, clean soap and the tiny bottle is cute!
Tiny Perfume


For big days at the office, a big breakfast:

Thin slice of ham, eggs, fried tomatoes and onions, rice and maple beans.


More Patchwork

This was finished early in the summer after I got annoyed at our drawer of plastic bags which sometimes got jammed with errant bags. I've been using it happily ever since for storing and dispensing small plastic bags. The pattern is from Machine Made Patchworks 02 and the fabrics are bits and bobs from other sewing projects.

You stuff the plastic bags through the opening at the top which is held shut with velcro:
Bag Dispenser

And pull them out of the bottom when you need one:
Bag Dispenser


Finished a new sweater. I mostly wanted to use up some leftover wool and found a pattern that matched: Peabody by Brooklyntweed.


I barely had enough wool to finish this so the sleeves are a bit short. The yarn is Briggs & Little Regal in Midnight Blue which is a hardwearing, rustic sort of yarn made in Canada. Not soft and a bit scratchy, but very warm which is appreciated greatly in our climate.


Fish for Breakfast

Good tasting, but badly unbalanced breakfast:

Fish shaped pancake/waffle with red bean filling. Called taiyaki (baked sea bream) in Japanese or 붕어빵 (crucian carp bread) in Korean. (Not sure how to Romanize the Korean...boong uh bbahng?) Funny how it's named after different fish in Japan and Korea. I wonder if the molds for the batter are different...

Anyway, had two of these for breakfast. The edges were very crispy. The filling was warm and sweet.


Ideas for Winter Dressing

It's a beautiful Fall day, but Winter will be here soon enough. Some cold weather clothing inspiration from Dandelion:

1. Layer like crazy.
A lot of clothing squeezed onto one person: two coats, two scarves,
two dresses/skirts, tights, socks, belt, mittens, furry hat and shoes!

2. Wear bright colours.
Especially when it's gray and gloomy.
The eyes get a bit starved for colour during the Winter.

Souvenirs from Tokyo #3

Some souvenir gifts from friends...
A perfect, little wooden spoon from Yuko and Naoya:
I think it was hand carved - there are tiny, tiny chisel marks on the surface.

Also, they gave us these little cubes for decorating. They are made of metal, but the painted surface makes them look like soft, worn squares of chalk.
Little Blocks
I like to change their arrangement every once in a while. The colours are so pretty.

One of the gifts from our friend Aya was this masu:
You can drink sake out of it, or use it to measure rice. That's what we use it for. Since I make rice almost everyday, I often reach for this and am reminded of friends in faraway places.


Red Maple

My view lately:
View from Window

This maple tree turns a glorious red every Autumn. When the sun is out, the light reflecting off of the leaves fills the living room with a warm red glow.

Red Light


Souvenirs From Tokyo #2

Over two trips to Japan, I now have a small collection of books purchased in Tokyo. I feel both inspired and nostalgic when I look through them now.

Hamburger magazine (filled with places to eat the best hamburgers in Tokyo),  and two cookbooks by Harumi Kurihara that I found in a small bookstore near our hotel.
Books from Japan

I was really excited when I picked up the cookbooks because they're bilingual! Every page is in both English and Japanese.
Books from Japan

Camera Biyori (Life with Camera magazine), Flat House Life (filled with cozy, stylish bungalows), Michikusa (illustrated walks around Tokyo) and Chibi Maruko-chan (comic book).
Books from Japan

Photo book the eyes, the ears by Rinko Kawauchi (we saw her photo exhibit at Foil Gallery), and two books documenting interesting apartments.
Books from Japan

Arne magazines. I wish I had more of these. Basically a woman made a very good zine about things she liked.
Books from Japan

The photography is modest and lo-fi. This issue is all about food. Every step is detailed.
Books from Japan

Travelsands and Dandelion. Travels books by Aoi Yu (actress) and Yoko Takahashi (photographer). One is in California, the other Siberia. Siberia looks stunning in the photos but must be absolutely freezing. Aoi Yu always has the best clothes! Some of the outfits in here are amazing!
Books from Japan

Books for knitting and sewing. It was hard to limit myself in the crafts section of the Kinokuniya bookstore. Very, very hard.
Books from Japan

Maybe it seems strange to buy books you can't really read, but I think it reminds me all the more of the feeling of being in Japan, where most of the time I didn't understand the language around me. Not understanding everything, but being fascinated and interested was part of everyday life when I was there, and I got to bring a bit of that back with me.



At the Nara Cafe in Tokyo, they have a delicious lunch set that usually comes with a small side dish of simmered ganmodoki (tofu fritters). I tried to make some the other day. One of the ingredients I used was hijiki seaweed. Out of the package came these long strings:

They colour the water while soaking. Eventually they really swelled up a lot!

The recipe was combined from a book and some online recipes but some of the ingredients are hard to find here, so these don't have quite the same texture as the ones I had in Japan. But I think fried tofu tastes delicious even when plain, so these with all the other veggies in them taste really great.

They make a nice snack!


Fall Mums

My mother-in-law gave my a big bucket of red and pinks mums from her garden.
Fall Mums

Enough for small, medium and large bouquets!
Fall Mums

New Hat

It's full on Autumn now so it's time to think about hats, scarves and all that nice stuff. It gets pretty cold here in my part of Canada! This is a hat pattern from the Purl Bee called Simple Pleasures. An easy knit but I made some changes to the pattern (details on Ravelry).

I used one skein of Malabrigo lace I had lying around. I usually don't buy random skeins of wool because it's hard to find projects that use just one and I feel guilty if my yarn stash gets too big but I couldn't resist the colour.

The other yarn used is Rowan Kid Silk Haze. I really like the marled affect of the two yarns together.

Simple Pleasures Hat


Souvenirs From Tokyo #1

The best holidays I've ever had were in Tokyo. I have been there twice and I can't describe in words how amazing it was...

One of the things we brought back from our most recent trip was tea from a fancy tea shop down the road from where we were staying. This is a blend of green tea, matcha and roasted brown rice. I love it because the flavour changes over time. The first cup from the teapot tastes bright and green from the matcha. As it steeps in the pot, the taste changes and later cups are mellower and nuttier from the brown rice.

The little teacup is from a small shop in Shimokitazawa. The wood tray is from Muji.


Blue Gingham Shirt

Summer clothes sewing recap #2.  Made with a linen cotton blend from Tokyo which was great for the crazy summer heat we had this year.  Somehow both light and breezy, but not sheer or flimsy feeling. Pattern from Stylish Dress Book 3.  After making this shirt I had enough fabric left to make a little tank top too and wore both a lot this summer.


Ceramics Class

I'm taking pottery classes again. I really look forward to each class, but always leave feeling a bit frustrated. As a beginner, you have to have different expectations of what is possible, but I haven't made one piece yet that I feel content about. The shape, size, evenness, colour and behaviour of the glaze all have to come together. There are many steps to completing a single piece and many things can go wrong (a messily run studio makes things even more difficult!) Anyway, here are a few pieces I brought home with me:

Rice bowl. Should be more red, but came out rather dark.

I like the shape and character of this one, but it's a bit heavy
and the glaze has pinholes and came out too brown.
Cute and chunky rice bowl. A bit small. A bit crooked.

Actually...they all look nicer in the photos than in real life! Believe me, they are very amateur, but that's to be expected. Maybe one day...


Nani Iro Shirt

It's time to start putting away our summer clothes here. I did a bit of summer sewing this year with fabric I purchased in Tokyo back in the Spring. I brought back some lovely Nani Iro double gauze and made this short sleeved shirt with it using a pattern from a Japanese book (also purchased in Tokyo). I wish I had a touch more fabric so I could have made this a tiny bit longer...

The double gauze is very soft and comfy.

Patchwork Pillow

More sewing with scraps! I cut a bunch of identical squares a long time ago in order to tidy up my stash of scrap fabric, and decided to make a little throw pillow out of some of them. I took some stuffing from an old, unused pillow and wrapped it in some new batting to slip inside.



Plain, organic yogourt made from non-homogenized whole milk, sliced organic strawberries and honey.

The strawberries had real strawberry flavour. As you can see, I filled the bowl a little too high - the first couple of spoonfuls were tricky!



My lunch today:

This tofu dish has become a favourite. Mushrooms, tofu and scallions in a thick sauce seasoned with dashi, soy sauce and mirin. I adapted a recipe called "Kuzu Tofu" from a book I bought in Tokyo called "Your Japanese Kitchen" by Harumi Kurihara. In addition to some ingredient substitutions, I made mine on the stove instead of in the microwave.

The squash salad recipe is from Ai. I just mixed cooked squash with Kewpie mayo and salt. Yummy. It would taste even better with proper kabocha squash which I couldn't find at the market today.

Making New Plants

I took some cuttings from the chocolate mint plant I have outside in order to propagate some smaller plants to grow inside during the winter. They root so easily - mint is a trooper!


Yarn Samples

So many possibilities...so many nice colours...I could look at these all day.

From Briggs & Little. Some more yarn samples from Blackwater Abbey:


New Houseplants

For something green to look at during the winter months.

Spider plant:

And prayer plant:

I didn't know when I bought it but the prayer plant's leaves close up a little bit at night and splay out during the day.

Both these plants are supposed to be easy to care for so I hope they do well.